There weren't many players more excited about taking on the Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1 than Blackhawks veteran Marian Hossa.
That's why that first period hit he took from Craig Adams along the boards really hurt -- in more ways than one.
"I was looking forward to that game, so playing 4 minutes was definitely disappointing," said Hossa, who has a plus-25 rating in 57 games. "At least I stayed on the bench until the end of the period (and) enjoyed the atmosphere and the snow.
"But it still wasn't fun."
And neither was the aftermath of the hit.
Hossa missed the last two periods of the Penguins game and hasn't played since. But he was back skating Friday morning and said he hopes to return to the lineup either Sunday night against Detroit or Tuesday in Philadelphia.
"He looked real good out there," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's real close."
Kris Versteeg joined Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad on the Hawks' top line against Nashville.
After Friday's morning skate, Versteeg was champing at the bit at the chance to get on the ice with the captain.
"It would be nice to take advantage of it," he said. "Playing with Tazer, he makes every player around him better -- just the compete level and the way he plays the game."
Though he was excited at the opportunity, the veteran forward said nerves would definitely not be a factor.
"I know I can play with top players, I've done it before," Versteeg said. "Just go play my game, bring some energy and maybe some creativity.
"With Tazer, pretty much what you see is what you get. I've just got to get to the net and try to get my stick on some pucks and hopefully they go in."
Kane more than able:
If the last two games are any indication, Patrick Kane appears to have found a second wind since returning from the Olympics.
"I thought he was really good in Colorado and was really good in Buffalo," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was nice to see him score as well -- some highlight-reel goals.
"When you see him have the puck as much as he has, you know it's a matter of time before he breaks out."
Kane, who is fourth in the NHL with 67 points, said returning to his hometown of Buffalo certainly didn't hurt.
"Going back and playing there is like you're kind of in the playoffs," he said. "You want to do everything right to put on a good performance for the people that are there and for your team."
As for that extra pep in his step lately?
"I feel focused, I feel like I'm doing the right things to get myself prepared to play," Kane said. "It's nice to see those things pay off."
He said it:
"They really distanced themselves, picking up 13 of 14 points. There's no reason why we can't do something like that, and all of a sudden the picture changes."
-- Joel Quenneville on entering Friday's game trailing division-leading St. Louis by 7 points with just 16 games remaining.